Itzcuauhtli (Eat-Squat-Lee) is an 11 year old indigenous eco hip-hop activist who went on a 45 day silence strike to draw awareness to climate change.
This child’s action is extraordinarily selfless and I have something important to relate that is highly relevant. One of my climate science colleagues and I were talking about how to get the “older vote” motivated to act. The challenge, one of the major reasons that older persons tend to vote Conservative, is money. By far, older persons are on a fixed budget. Any new taxes decrease their standard of living. Typically, older persons’ standard of living is much lower than it was when they had a steady income, so personal economics are very important to them. This is huge and represents one of the fundamental challenges of climate change action motivation.
Just this last weekend I completed the second reading of a thesis: “Climate Change Virtue Ethics and Ecocriticism In Undergraduate Education.” This second reading and critique is required for this post-grad to complete her Master’s work. The entire thrust of this 150 page thesis is based on emotions, ethics, morals and values. One of the things it addressed was “older person motivation.” What it said, straight from the scholarly journals, may not be what one would think. It certainly is not a comfortable solution to me, but it is very logical, very likely to be effective, comes from some of the smartest people in the world and is based in the highest form of ethics.
The solution is guilt. Older people need to not only understand the great risks now, but the rate that risks increase as we continue to do nothing. These risks are not only to their own persons, but to their children, their grandchildren, and generations beyond their grandchildren. Very specifically, the literature says that the ethics of climate change must communicate these risks to older people, so that they can understand the implications of their actions in not supporting climate change policy that would increase their own taxes. They need to know that it’s not only their children, grandchildren and future generations, but that these risks are relevant to virtually every single child on Earth.